Thursday, March 26, 2009

More on Australia

by Michele Ann Young

My we are flying around the world at a rapid rate!

If you are anything like me, you would have found the look of Hyde Park Barracks in the earlier post distinctly depressing on the outside.

On the other hand, some of these people had been sitting in wrecks like the one pictured here for a very long time. Perhaps four square walls didn't look quite so bad after all.

These ships were called prison hulks and they eased the overcrowding in prisons on land. And of course, conveniently located the prisoners off shore or in the Thames estuary for when it was their turn to be transported. sometimes they remained on board for years.

One can imagine that it would be dark and dank with absolutely no privacy.

The men would be shackled during the day in ankle shackles such as these, which would be connected to another chain which encircled waist or throat.

During the day they were put to work on all sorts of projects, depending on where there ship was in relation to shore.

Many of the hulks were located near Woolwich which was expanding rapidly at the time and needed lots of labourers. With the marshes on one side and the naval docks and the Royal Arsenal on the other, escape was difficult.

James Hardy Vaux was a prisoner on the Retribution, an old Spanish vessel, at Woolwich during the early 1800s.

While waiting to be transported for a second time to New South Wales, he recalled:

Every morning, at seven o'clock, all the convicts capable of work, or, in fact, all who are capable of getting into the boats, are taken ashore to the Warren, in which the Royal Arsenal and other public buildings are situated, and there employed at various kinds of labour; some of them very fatiguing; and while so employed, each gang of sixteen or twenty men is watched and directed by a fellow called a guard.

These guards are commonly of the lowest class of human beings; wretches devoid of feeling; ignorant in the extreme, brutal by nature, and rendered tyrannical and cruel by the consciousness of the power they possess….

They invariably carry a large and ponderous stick, with which, without the smallest

provocation, they fell an unfortunate convict to the ground, and frequently repeat their blows long after the poor fellow is insensible.

The prisoners had to live on one deck in group cells that were barely high enough to let a man stand up. The officers lived in cabins in the stern. Disease such as dysentry and typhus were rife caused by the lack of fresh water, overcrowding and vermin. Many died. The men stole from each other, and their guards stole their issued clothing. Punishments were harsh, primarily the cat o' nine tails and solitary confinement.

It was also difficult for relatives to visit and bring them the necessities of life as they often did in the prisons on land.

And they still haven't started on their journey to Bontany Bay.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The London of the Ton Part V

by Ann Lethbridge

While Michele is in transports over Australia (pun intended though not very good) I am still poking around Regency London.

You may have notice an addition to the side-bar. The link to the Thames River Police. While we are all aware of the existence of Bow Street Runners, established in 1749, an equally significant organized police force came into being in 1798.

The Thames River Police

In 1792 Parliament passed the Justice of the Peace, Metropolis Act (32 Geo.III, c.53), which established seven public offices in various parts of London, with three paid Justices attached to each.

Amongst them were offices at High Street, Shadwell, and Lambeth Street, Whitechapel, with jurisdiction over districts which are now part of the Thames Magistrate's Court area. They also had the jurisdiction over offenses on the River Thames or in connection with goods taken from vessels in the river. Not that they did a very good job on the latter. About £500,000 worth of imports were going missing every year. Never mind what disappeared from the exports.

Several people lobbied for the need for a police force to deal with theft on the River. The Chancellor of the Exchequer agreed to pay part of the expenses of a Marine Police Establishment, the West India merchants invited Magistrate Patrick Colquhoun (pictured here) to be superintend the creation of that establishment.

The Secretary of State arranged for a substitute to take Colquhoun's duties at Queen's Square so that he could devote his time to the new institution.

On June 15th 1798, the merchants' committee nominated John Harriott to the Secretary of State for appointment as resident magistrate.
The West India Docks in London.

More on this fascinating police force next time. Until then, Happy Rambles.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Transportation and Australia during the Regency

by Michele Ann Young
Having just returned from Australia, I thought I would share some of the research, and the pictures I took at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum and in the old part of Sydney. I suppose I need a bit of a disclaimer here. I researched information I thought might be useful for a small part of a book I have in mind.

I have not done and intensive study of Australia or the transportation of convicts. This is more like a thumbnail sketch to get me started. I though you might be interested.

Our first picture is of the Hyde Park Barracks a convict barracks, not military, located on what is now Maccqarie Street in Sydney. It is not far from the famed Sydney Bridge and the opera house. Built in 1817 to 1819, so right at the end of the Regency era. It is one of the few public buildings which survives from that time in New South Wales.

Prior to these barracks convicts were housed in private houses and hotels in areas like The Rocks, an old and less reputable part of town. Apparently, while the convicts were set to work all day, in the evening they had a jolly good old time and got a bit disorderly.

Public outcry led to the building of the barracks for 600 men who formed the labour force Governor Macquarie needed for his public works program.

Francis Greenway, (1777-1837), pictured here was the architect for the Barracks. Born at Mangotsfield, near Bristol, England he was in private practice as an architect when in March 1812 he was found guilty of forging a document. He was sentenced to death, but the penalty was later changed to transportation for fourteen years. He arrived in Sydney in February 1814 in the transport General Hewitt, and was followed in July by his wife Mary, whom he had married about 1804, and three children in the Broxbornebury.

Sentenced to death for forging a document. Good for Mary following him all the way to Australia.

Greenway was responsible for the design of many government buildings during this time, but apparently had few social skills and got on the wrong side of everyone of any importance. I do wonder what he would have thought of the Opera House.

The men who physically built the barracks were also convicts, laborers and tradesmen. The barracks then housed 600 convicts, both government-employed and those loaned out and those waiting assignment. It was not a prison, but it did serve to restrict their freedom and was intended to increase their productivity. While the inmates received basic accommodations and increased rations of food many worked for the government, and thus lost opportunity for private and more profitable and sometimes less onerous work.

So there were two kinds of convicts. Government men employed in docyards, stores, gardens, quarries, mines, waterworks, military barracks and in building, lad clering, street and road making or in sydney's brick field or lumber yard. The others were convict servants, or assigned servants, working for private individuals.

Inside the barracks there were plum jobs, constables, messengers, scourgers (floggers) and gatekeepers. those with good behavior were allowed to spend time out of the Barracks after work. Married men with families could live in privat lodgings and report to the Barracks each morning. Some were also permitted to undertake private jobs on Fridays and Saturdays.

After five or so years, a convict could be eligible for a "Ticket of Leave". It must have been a prized event for it allow them to leave the Barracks and find their own employment, provided they remained within a designated area.

Life for convicts in the Barracks and elsewhere was hard. After all, it was a punishment. We'll get to that next time.

Until then Happy Rambles in our modern world.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The London of the Ton - Part IV

by Ann Lethbridge

Two week until my book, The Rake's Inherited Courtesan is in stores. I must say I am getting quite excited. Expect to see me driving around my neighborhood looking to see if it is on the shelves.

In the meantime, what better way to spend a Spring day than to wander around Regency London.

More specifically St James' Street. We only have a general date - the commencement of the 19th century, but I was delighted to see both a hobby horse and a sedan chair in this picture. I also see a couple of dogs. Does anything in particular strike you about this scene?

There will be on copy of my book sent to whoever makes the most interesting observation(s).

Let us imagine we are members of the Regent's inner circle. This is something we would have seen if invited to Carlton House. It is a corner of the "Golden Drawing Room". It is an example of the Directoire Style which refers to the the post-Revolution French Directory (November 2, 1795 through November 10, 1799). The style is distinct for use of neoclassical architectural forms, minimal carving, planar expanses of highly grained veneers, and applied decorative painting.

This picture was painted in 1817 by C. Wild. I apologize for the tilted effect, but it's the best I could do.
Our last scene reminds us that not all was balls, long gowns and pretty scenes. Men were as much into their sports in those days as they are today. Lots to observe in this scene. It would certainly make an interesting scene in a novel. The Fives Court, pictured here, a centre for prize fighting and boxing in St Martins Street has certainly shown up in several I have read. Boxing gloves were fashionable by 1814, though in use before this time.

Pugilism was a favourite amusement among all classes and few if any magistrates were disposed to take much notice of them.

Other venues for practice were Daffy's Club, held at Tom Belcher's at the Castle Tavern, Holborn, a place recorded in "The London Spy"; and the Pugilistic Society, mentioned by Byron, which held its first meeting at the Thatched House Tavern on May 22nd, 1814, while exponents as Gregson and Gully, Broughton and Slack were wont to foregather at Limmer's Hotel and meet there patrons and pupils there. Gentleman Jackson gave lessons at his rooms at 13 Bond Street.

The fights themselves took place outside of cities and town, but never so far away that spectators could not drive out to them.

Well on that note, we will leave the gentlemen to their pursuits and go for tea. Until next time, happy rambles.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain ~ March

A regular feature for your delectation.

March is the time of mad hares and spring bulbs.

Hares are called mad in March because of their breeding behavior. Boxing is just one of their favorite pastimes.

These brown hares actually remind me a bit of the kangaroos we saw recently.

One of the loveliest of the wildflowers which blooms in March in England is the violet.

The Violet
Not from the verdant garden’s cultured bound,
That breathes of Paestum’s aromatic gale,
We sprung; but nurslings of the lonely vale,
‘Midst woods and glooms, whose tangled brakes around
Once Venus sorrowing traced, as all forlorn
She sought Adonis, when a lurking thorn
Deep on her foot impressed and impious wound.
Then prone to earth we bowed our pallid flowers,
And caught the drops divine; the purple dyes
Tinging the lustre of our native hue:
Nor summer gales, nor art-conducted showers,
Have nursed our slender forms, but lovers’ sighs
Have been our gales, and lovers’ tears our dew ~ Lorenzo di Medici

I always find it fascinating the way our Naturists breaks into poetry at the drop of a hat.

March is also a time of high winds, or as our diarist says It is also the time of equinoctial gales both at sea and land.

That's it for now. Until next time. Happy Rambles

Monday, March 9, 2009

Regency Fashion For March

First, many apologies for the typos in that last blog. Jet lag has strange effects. I have done some fixing. Hopefully today will be better as we move into our regular article. Though we put our clocks forward this morning, so yet another time warp.

This evening gown in from the Ackerman's Repository and is dated March 1819. I do not have a description from the time, but I thought it interesting because of the musical instrument and the rather nice view of the cushioned stool on which she is seated. Odd how some things catch one's eye.

We are well past the classical style with this gown. The high waist is there, but the fabric is not the flimsy drapery of earlier in the era, it is some sort of striped satin and the bell, or A line, of the skirt is very pronounced. The heavy trim (Rouleau) around the hem is typical of this period.

La Belle Assemblee, March 1807

Here you see for comparison the style from March 1807. The cloak is described as a Polish Robe, and indeed has a rather eastern European feel to the fur lined edging and of course the hat. The tassles on both the robe and the Evening gown are quite lovely. It also reminds us that Britain can be quite cool still in March, even if the trees are starting to get their leaves and the daffodils are budding.

The Evening Gown is quite lovely and of course shows the classical lines of the earlier period to perfection. I really like the way the dotted shawl crosses over at the front and then drapes off one shoulder.

There is also a row of buttons running down the skirt front, just off to one side which is quite unusual.

Well that's it for fashion for March. Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

ARRC '09

Well, we went. And we had a wonderful time. The Australian Readers made us very welcome and on top of that we got to visit a very beautiful country. We also managed to do a little bit of research while were were there too.

But this blog is show and tell about the conference and our visit to Australia.

We arrived in Sydney first to discover that the 45 degree weather had been replaced by rain. And after the first shark attack in 80 years along with a cool rainy day, this was Bondi Beach. Two surfers and empty sand. My daughter couldn't quite believe it as the previous weekend some 40,000 people were cooling off on the beach. But we got to see itau naturelle.

This was our view from our hotel window. Circle Key and a wee bit of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, if we leaned far out and squinted. Actually not true. You can see the start of the bridge against the skyline. And from our hotel it was only a short walk to a wonderful view of the Sydney Opera House and the Bridge.

Needless to say we took that walk and we took a tour of the Opera House too. A wonderful building and surprising inside.

The conference itself was in Melbourne, and so it wasn't long before we wended our way to the Jasper Hotel right next to the Victoria Markets, which turned out to be one of the most amazing markets I have ever seen in my life. You name it, they had it. We bought a Crocodile Dundee hat and Ugg boots. Now we felt like real Australians. And everyone was so friendly. We were very lucky to meet Sue Webb and her husband Graham. Here we are at the market. Ugg boots in hand, Dundee hat on head!

But then it was down to business. The conference was well attended, the rooms well appointed and everyone was determined to have an excellent conference.

These are some of the booksellers attending the conference.

This was our gala dinner where I was lucky to sit with some wonderful readers and other great writers. We talked a blue streak all evening.

The stalwart ladies of the Registration desk. They couldn't do enough to help and were always smiling and helpful.

We visited lots of other places on our trip, and one of them will be an article for this blog, but the rest, well they are happy memories of Koalas, kangaroos and penguins, snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, and driving the Great Ocean Road, meeting old friends and making new ones.

On Monday we will look at fashion for March and next Thursday take a look at Australia in our era.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

We Are Back

We had a great time in Australia. Lots to share. Posts will begin on a regular basis on Thursday.